The most common mesothelioma treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These treatments play a key role in destroying or reducing cancer tumors. Some patients also receive emerging treatments through clinical trials, which may give them a higher chance of survival. Veterans with mesothelioma can access top doctors and cutting-edge treatment through the VA.
What Are My Mesothelioma Treatment Options?
Treatment options for mesothelioma vary based on the location of the cancer, the cell type of the cancer, and the patient’s general health. However, most patients will receive at least one of the following treatment options.
Standard treatment options for mesothelioma are:
All three treatment types can be used to extend lifespan or to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Your doctor will help you create the best treatment plan for your goals and needs.
Multimodal Treatment for Mesothelioma
Doctors often use a range of therapies simultaneously to help combat mesothelioma. This is called multimodal treatment. Through multimodal treatment, cancer cells left behind by one type of treatment may be destroyed by another.
The most common type of multimodal treatment combines surgery with either radiation or chemotherapy.
Surgery removes most of the cancerous tissue. The other therapies reduce the size of the tumor before surgery or kill remaining cancer cells after surgery takes place.
Get information on:
- Treatment Options
- Mesothelioma Specialists
- Veterans Benefits
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment
Pleural mesothelioma originates in the lining of the lungs (pleura). It’s the most common form of mesothelioma, giving patients many options for treatment.
Mesothelioma surgery is considered the best option for patients seeking curative treatment because it works to remove the cancer in its entirety.
However, it may not be an option for everyone. Invasive surgeries can take a toll on the body and require long recovery times.
Surgery is most often considered for patients diagnosed in the early stages of pleural mesothelioma. Here, the cancer is still easily removable and hasn’t spread to distant areas of the body.
In later stages of the cancer, surgery may be considered too risky. Additionally, some patients may be excluded on the basis of age or poor overall health.
Qualifying patients typically receive one of two pleural mesothelioma surgeries.
1. Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)
Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) removes as much cancerous tissue from the chest cavity as possible. Surgeons remove the affected lung, the lining of the lungs, the lining of the heart, and parts of the diaphragm.
Cancer patients must be in good general health to qualify for this surgery as it is very aggressive. Patients may also face quality of life issues after it is performed, like shortness of breath or dependence on an oxygen tank.
2. Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D)
Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) removes cancerous tissue from the lining of the heart, lining of the lung, and diaphragm.The lung is left intact and is not removed.
A patient’s age does not affect their ability to receive a P/D. Many oncologists (cancer doctors) prefer it to an EPP even for younger patients since it offers many of the same benefits without the risks to quality of life.
Chemotherapy is the most common form of treatment for pleural mesothelioma patients. Age and health do not limit who can receive chemotherapy in most cases. It may be given alone as part of a palliative treatment plan or as part of a multimodal plan to increase lifespan.
Pleural mesothelioma patients who undergo chemotherapy are usually given a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed.
During mesothelioma radiation, high-energy particles and rays are aimed at tumors. This destroys and damages cancer cells so they cannot reproduce. This causes the tumors to shrink, making them easier to remove with surgery. It also slows the spread of cancer.
Radiation therapy is considered non-invasive and is often a top choice for mesothelioma patients. It’s a popular option for palliative care because it can ease painful mesothelioma symptoms.